Innovation Forum

The HI NENC Innovation Forum brings together Innovation leads from across the NHS Trusts in the region.

Building on the innovation support the HI NENC provides to the NHS, the Innovation Forum creates a space for those leading on innovation in healthcare in the North East and North Cumbria to meet and discuss ideas, share best practices and collaborate.

The Innovation Forum has grown from an idea into a real community of like-minded individuals coming together with a passion for innovation and how it can impact the front line of healthcare. The community shares insights, processes, and shapes the regional strategy for innovation.

Member numbers have grown dramatically since 2021 with many new starters joining NHS Innovation departments across the region. We meet bi-monthly, with individual NHS Trusts taking turns to host. The hosting Trust will often partner with a local organisation, enabling the Forum members to broaden their networks across the region. The forums focus on networking and peer support, whilst also offering upskilling and information about available funding and opportunities.


Guests attend the Innovation Forum meeting at Hope Street Xchange. Picture: DAVID WOOD


“The Innovation Forum is a very useful networking event in our region. It enables meeting up with others working within innovation, sharing issues, and spreading the work taking place within the NHS organisations. It’s a good feeling to be working together across the region and not just within one organisation. A super opportunity!”

Sharon Brown, Innovation Portfolio Coordinator since 2016 for the South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust


“As a new starter in a new Innovation department the Innovation Forum has been invaluable. Being able to discuss approaches and strategies with established teams has given us a real boost at the start of our journey. I think it provides a sense of security and supportiveness to a role that could otherwise feel somewhat external and isolated.”

Craig Wilkinson, Research and Innovation Project Manager since Jan 2022 for the Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust                    


Below is a selection of short case studies where the AHSN NENC and the Innovation Forum have been able to contribute to a positive impact on innovation and patient outcomes in the region.


For more information about the Innovation Forum, contact [email protected]

Trust/Organization: Northumbria Healthcare NHS FT


The Research and Innovation Team needed to raise awareness of the services they provide across the Trust to identify, develop and commercialise innovative ideas, services and devices for the benefit of the patients and regional citizens. A campaign was created and delivered to position the team, raise awareness of successful innovations and encourage staff engagement.

A launch event was held in Autumn 2020, opened by Sir Jim Mackay, Trust CEO, to stress the importance of driving and supporting innovation across the Trust to continuously improve in-patient and out-patient health. To support the event, which consisted of presentations and case studies, an ‘Innovation Impact’ brochure was created to reinforce the key messages and support continued engagement with the R&I team. The brochure included a welcome from the CEO, introductions to the R&I team, an explanation of the innovation process and a number of case studies demonstrating how successfully supported innovations have positively impacted on patient health.

To encourage engagement, a social media campaign was developed and delivered by the AHSN before, during and after the event which ensured the event was well attended and the follow-up engagement has been particularly successful. Within a week after the event, the R&I team had been approached by 10 different staff members looking for commercialisation support.

By recording the event, and transforming the case studies into talking heads and shorter film clips, an ongoing social media campaign is running to encourage staff to engage with the team to discuss their ideas. Additionally, articles about the campaign and blogs from the team have been published in regional newsletters and forums.


Lorelle Dismore, Research and Innovation Officer, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust said, “I was really impressed with how smoothly our virtual engagement event went, and with how much interest we had through the supporting social media campaign. With the tremendous support from the AHSN NENC team, I was able to host the event with minimal stress, engage with staff using social media and create an Innovation Impact brochure which can be used to support ongoing engagement activities.”



Trust/Organisation: South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and ELM Alliance Limited

Overview: The aim of the PREPWELL programme is to identify ways that healthcare teams can help patients prepare for treatments and surgery to help them to make a better recovery. PREPWELL is a one-stop preoperative health and wellbeing programme for patients undergoing major surgery and/ or other hospital treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

The idea was initially conceived and implemented by Prof. Gerard Danjoux at South Tees NHS Foundation Trust who engaged with the Trust innovation team, led by Sharon Brown. Through Sharon’s involvement with the Innovation Forum, the PREPWELL team were able to tap into a number of support provisions.

Primarily, the Innovation Forum supported the team with advice and guidance around intellectual property by facilitating assistance and advice from Victoria Christie (AHSN NENC Intellectual Property and Contracts Manager) to ensure that the creation and recognition of the programme remind the property of the Trust.

Additionally, the Innovation Forum and wider AHSN NENC team were able to support the PREWELL team to create a website, supporting marketing materials and a comms strategy to launch the programme. This communications support created the opportunity to encourage spread and adoption across, and outside of, the Trust.

Following an initial pilot of the programme, PREPWELL is now an online resource that can be used by Trusts nationally. In 2020. The PREPWELL team were runners up in the Anaesthesia and Perioperative Medicine Team of the Year category of the British Medical Journal Awards, recognising the innovative nature of the programme, which is making a huge difference to patient recovery.

Paul Baker, director for research and innovation at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said, ‘This is a really successful programme and the team have done a great job. Evidence shows that patients taking part in the programme have more confidence and less anxiety about going into surgery and they also continue to be more active after surgery. It is supporting patients to make healthier lifestyle choices, which is having a positive impact on their overall health.’


If you would like to find out more about the PREPWELL programme, please visit their website